On This Day … 17 August


  • 986 – Byzantine–Bulgarian wars: Battle of the Gates of Trajan: The Bulgarians under the Comitopuli Samuel and Aron defeat the Byzantine forces at the Gate of Trajan, with Byzantine Emperor Basil II barely escaping.
  • 1186 – Georgenberg Pact: Ottokar IV, Duke of Styria and Leopold V, Duke of Austria sign a heritage agreement in which Ottokar gives his duchy to Leopold and to his son Frederick under the stipulation that Austria and Styria would henceforth remain undivided.
  • 1386 – Karl Topia, the ruler of Princedom of Albania forges an alliance with the Republic of Venice, committing to participate in all wars of the Republic and receiving coastal protection against the Ottomans in return.
  • 1424 – Hundred Years’ War: Battle of Verneuil: An English force under John, Duke of Bedford defeats a larger French army under Jean II, Duke of Alençon, John Stewart, and Earl Archibald of Douglas.
  • 1549 – Battle of Sampford Courtenay: The Prayer Book Rebellion is quashed in England.
  • 1560 – The Catholic Church is overthrown and Protestantism is established as the national religion in Scotland.
  • 1585 – Eighty Years’ War: Siege of Antwerp: Antwerp is captured by Spanish forces under Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma, who orders Protestants to leave the city and as a result over half of the 100,000 inhabitants flee to the northern provinces.
  • 1585 – A first group of colonists sent by Sir Walter Raleigh under the charge of Ralph Lane lands in the New World to create Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island, off the coast of present-day North Carolina.
  • 1597 – Islands Voyage: Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, and Sir Walter Raleigh set sail on an expedition to the Azores.
  • 1712 – Action of 17 August 1712 New Deep naval battle between Denmark and Sweden.
  • 1717 – Austro-Turkish War of 1716–18: The month-long Siege of Belgrade ends with Prince Eugene of Savoy’s Austrian troops capturing the city from the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1862 – American Indian Wars: The Dakota War of 1862 begins in Minnesota as Dakota warriors attack white settlements along the Minnesota River.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: Major General J.E.B. Stuart is assigned command of all the cavalry of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: In Charleston, South Carolina, Union batteries and ships bombard Confederate-held Fort Sumter.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Gainesville: Confederate forces defeat Union troops near Gainesville, Florida.
  • 1866 – The Grand Duchy of Baden announces her withdrawal from the German Confederation and signs a treaty of peace and alliance with Prussia.
  • 1914 – World War I: Battle of Stallupönen: The German army of General Hermann von François defeats the Russian force commanded by Paul von Rennenkampf near modern-day Nesterov, Russia.
  • 1916 – World War I: Romania signs a secret treaty with the Entente Powers. According to the treaty, Romania agreed to join the war on the Allied side.
  • 1918 – Bolshevik revolutionary leader Moisei Uritsky is assassinated.
  • 1942 – World War II: US Marines raid the Japanese-held Pacific island of Makin.
  • 1943 – World War II: The US Eighth Air Force suffers the loss of 60 bombers on the Schweinfurt-Regensburg mission.
  • 1943 – World War II: The US Seventh Army under General George S. Patton arrives in Messina, Italy, followed several hours later by the British 8th Army under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, thus completing the Allied conquest of Sicily.
  • 1943 – World War II: First Québec Conference of Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and William Lyon Mackenzie King begins.
  • 1943 – World War II: The Royal Air Force begins Operation Hydra, the first air raid of the Operation Crossbow strategic bombing campaign against Germany’s V-weapon programme.
  • 1945 – Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaim the independence of Indonesia, igniting the Indonesian National Revolution against the Dutch Empire.
    • Independence Day, celebrates the independence proclamation of Indonesia from Japan in 1945.
  • 1947 – The Radcliffe Line, the border between the Dominions of India and Pakistan, is revealed.
  • 1960 – Independence Day, celebrates the independence of Gabon from France.
  • 1962 – Peter Fechter is shot and bleeds to death while trying to cross the new Berlin Wall.

People (Births)

  • 1603 – Lennart Torstensson, Swedish Field Marshal, Privy Councillour and Governor-General (d. 1651).
  • 1768 – Louis Desaix, French general (d. 1800).
  • 1786 – Davy Crockett, American soldier and politician (d. 1836).
  • 1890 – Stefan Bastyr, Polish soldier and pilot (d. 1920).
  • 1896 – Leslie Groves, American general and engineer (d. 1970).
  • 1896 – Tõnis Kint, Estonian lieutenant and politician, Prime Minister of Estonia in exile (d. 1991).
  • 1911 – Martin Sandberger, German colonel and lawyer (d. 2010).
  • 1929 – Francis Gary Powers, American captain and pilot (d. 1977).

People (Deaths)

  • 949 – Li Shouzhen, Chinese general and governor.
  • 1338 – Nitta Yoshisada, Japanese samurai (b. 1301).
  • 1834 – Husein Gradaščević, Ottoman general (b. 1802).
  • 1850 – José de San Martín, Argentinian general and politician, 1st President of Peru (b. 1778).
  • 1940 – Billy Fiske, American soldier and pilot (b. 1911).
  • 1945 – Reidar Haaland, Norwegian police officer and soldier (b. 1919).
  • 1971 – Wilhelm List, German field marshal (b. 1880).
  • 1987 – Rudolf Hess, German soldier and politician (b. 1894).
  • 1988 – Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistani general and politician, 6th President of Pakistan (b. 1924).
  • 2013 – Gus Winckel, Dutch lieutenant and pilot (b. 1912).

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